Planning to climb Kilimanjaro
Your Kilimanjaro questions:
- How do I book a kili trek with Kilitreks and Safaris?
- What price should I expect to pay to climb Mt Kilimanjaro?
- What do you include and exclude in your Kilimanjaro price?
- When is the best time to climb mount Kilimanjaro?
- How safe is it to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro?
- What equipment do I need for Kili climbing?
- What should I pack for a kilimanjaro climb?
- Can I hire equipment from you?
- What equipment do the company provide for kilitrekking?
- Do I need my own insurance to climb mount Kilimanjaro?
- What I should I expect on my kili climb?
- What is the food on the climb like?
- What support will I have on the Kilimanjaro climb?
- Where will I sleep on the mountain?
- How fit do I need to be for kilimanjaro trekking?
- How much should I consider tipping the Kili climbing crew?
- Do you offer discounts for groups?
If you are reasonably fit and have good equipment you can climb at anytime. However, the best time, with clear skies, is during the dry season between August to October. These are popular months for Mount Kilimanjaro treks. For those who enjoy a more remote and peaceful experience, consider climbing Kilimanjaro from late June into July.
During the rainy season (March to May and November) the lower slopes can be slippery and summit temperatures fall well below freezing. This is the time when Marangu route and sleeping in huts may be a good option for the less hardy climber.
Bags: You need two ruck-sacks (back-packs). One small back-pack for items needed during the day and one larger ruck-sack (or soft bag) for everything else. The porters will carry your larger rucksack (soft bag). Porters move fast (ahead of you), so you will not get access to your bag until you reach your destination at the end of each day. No hard suitcases please. Excess items (not required for the climb) can be safely stored at no charge.
What to wear: It is vital for your comfort and safety that you bring good quality, all-weather hiking gear. For clothes, we are talking light as well as warm layers. You will be hiking from tropical to arctic conditions. Your outerwear must be wind proof and water proof. Your boots need to be well broken in and also water proof. Carry lots of socks. Dry feet are warmer than wet. Bring light breathable layers for the lower levels. Shorts are OK as long as they are not too short. When you book with Kilitreks & Safaris we will email you a comprehensive packing list.
Sleeping bags: You need to bring a 3 (minimum) to 4 season sleeping bag. Feather or down mix bags are warmer. We do not generally provide sleeping bags for hygiene reasons, but we do keep a small stock for hire with prior notice.
We have compiled a helpful packing list for climbing.
Maximum weight for porter carriage of your rucksack is 15kg. If you need to carry more (e.g. heavy camera gear), please tell us when you book. We may need to charge extra.
Gear hire: While some gear can be hired, it is better if you bring your own.
We have a small (for hire) stock of boots, jackets, thermal body layers, hats, gloves and sleeping bags.
Our guides carry a basic first-aid pack and mobile phones for base contact.
Camping equipment: We provide double-skinned tents with integral fly netting and stow pouches. We also provide sleeping mattresses/pads, dining table and folding chairs or stools. Dining and cooking items are also provided. We do not generally provide sleeping bags for hygiene reasons. However, we do have a small stock for hire with prior notice.
Mt Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most climbable high altitude mountains. You do not need technical mountaineering skills, but you should keep in your mind that Kilimanjaro is seriously high and may be one of the most challenging adventures you ever pay for.
Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro is about mental and physical preparedness. Being physically prepared for the trek should begin as early as possible. As your fitness level increases, your mental confidence will also increase. The combination will make a world of difference to your enjoyment of the climb and your sense of achievement.
The main concern when climbing Kilimanjaro is altitude sickness. This condition is an acid-alkali imbalance in the blood and body fluids which affects climbers indiscriminately. Whatever your level of fitness, it may not reduce your chances of getting some degree of altitude sickness because almost everyone does - mild headache, nausea, tiredness, loss of appetite are common symptoms.
When you book with Kilitreks & Safaris we will send you more detailed information about altitude sickness and the measures you can take to avoid.
Do not climb Kilimanjaro with the sole aim of reaching the summit as you are more likely to create a problem for the guide if you are unwell and must descend and/or abandon the climb.
The best treatment for altitude sickness is to descend. Your guide is trained by KINAPA to make this decision.
Guides are trained to assess your level of well-being. If you feel unwell at any time during the Kilimanjaro climb, or become aware of one of your companions feeling unwell or behaving out of character, be honest and inform your guide. You/they may just need support and encouragement, but medical assistance and/or emergency evacuation may be needed.
Oxygen can be requested (at additional cost) but will only used to support an emergency descent. It is NOT used to assist clients to climb higher - this is dangerous practice. We use a dry powder system.
The most immediate treatment for moderate and serious altitude sickness is to go down below 3000m. It is possible to descend quickly on most Kilimanjaro routes so, in our experience, oxygen is rarely needed.
For your safety you should definitely not be climbing at altitude against your doctor’s advice. You should not climb at altitude if you have sickle cell disease, recurrent pneumothorax (burst lung), pregnant (above 3,500m), a respiratory problem, sore throat, cold, cough, increased temperature or a nose bleed. People who have had laser surgery for short sight may experience vision changes (over 4,500m)
You must have adequate travel and medical insurance to cover all your holiday activities including climbing Mt Kilimanjaro and emergency repatriation to your home country.
Being a wilderness destination, medical infrastructure in major centers is remote from many locations visited. Therefore cover for medical evacuation by an East Africa based scheme is included in case of a medical emergency. This is especially relevant to those climbing Kilimanjaro. Government provision of emergency medical response does not exist in Tanzania and so is carried out by specialist private local medical operators. While international medical insurance is essential it must be combined with a scheme provided by a locally based medical evacuation operator in order to prevent delay in mobilizing effective local emergency response. We include AMREF - Flying Doctors for emergency air rescue on all climb and safari prices.
Before the climb:
When you book with Kilitreks & Safaris we will send you helpful pre-departure information and useful hints on fitness preparation for climbing the highest mountain in Africa
On arrival, a Kili treks representative will meet you in your hotel (if possible, on the night before the climb) to brief you about the climb and give you an opportunity to ask questions. Also, a final equipment check will be completed. This sometimes reveals forgotten essential items which we will try to find for you.
Starting the climb:
Your vehicles will arrive at your location to transfer you to the trail-head. Some journeys are longer than others and sometimes the roads are muddy and you may need to start walking. Expect the unexpected, relax and enjoy the experience.
For all Kilimanjaro climbing routes, your crew (porters, chefs, assistants) will be at the gate packing the equipment and supplies, waiting for you and your guide to arrive. Registration at the gate can take up to 1 hour, depending on the number of hikers waiting. You will be given a final safety briefing, packed lunch and bottled water before you start. The crews ascend very quickly and will have everything ready for when you arrive at the days destination, whether camping or huts. After the first day, the water you receive is boiled and filtered.
Do not start hiking until your guide tells you to start.
Kilimanjaro hiking pace:
The slow, comfortable hiking pace is designed to give maximum opportunity for the body to acclimatize and avoid getting overtired. The pace also gives an opportunity to marvel at the scenery, the flora and fauna, get to know other climbers etc. Our climbers often return to share personal reflections and inspirations they experienced on the mountain.
The hiking times and distances given in the programs are estimations. Additional days can be added to the programs. The program may change at any time due to weather or safety conditions.
The summit attempt:
For the Kilimanjaro summit attempt you will be woken with a hot drink and a snack around midnight. After a last briefing and equipment check, you will begin climbing the scree (small stones) usually in the dark. This is the most challenging part of your climb and looked forward to with trepidation sometimes, but always with excitement.
A torch is essential, so change your torch batteries. Walking poles are helpful and, if climbing in the low season, you may need an ice axe as the summit is below freezing. It is advisable to carry drinking water in a thermos flask.
Not all climbers make it to the summit. For some, the achievement of watching the sun rise on Gilman's or Stella Point is enough. For others, it is onward and upward to the roof of Africa.
On reaching the summit, there is a short time for enjoying the achievement, taking photos, replacing energy (snack), but you will not want to linger for long as it is very cold. Descent from the summit is in stages. You descend for breakfast with time to catch up on a short sleep before continuing to the last camp or hut within the forest for your final night on Kilimanjaro.
On return to the National Park gate certificates will be issued to successful summit climbers. Climbers who reached Stella Point (5685m) and Gilman's Point (5680m) are issued with green certificates and those who reached the summit of Uhuru Peak (5895m) receive gold certificates.
Some climbers forget in their quest to 'conquer' the mountain that Kilimanjaro offers special moments and plenty of time for reflection. Our advise is to prioritise making the most of this wonderful iconic mountain and enjoy your experience.
Mountain meals are a mixture of traditional and western food. Our chefs are extremely good at preparing tasty meals in difficult conditions. The excellent feedback we get from our climbers is proof they do an amazing job.
Breakfast - 'Bed tea' (with a smile), chapatti, oat porridge, sausages, scrambled eggs, french toast with honey, toasted bacon and cheese sandwich, fresh fruits or fruit filled pancakes.
Appetizers - vegetable soup (e.g. leek and potatoes, pumpkin, carrot and lentil with coriander), spicy chicken soup, or fresh salad vegetables with mayonnaise
Main Course may be one of the following - Fried tilapia fish fillet with French fries and salad vegetables, beef goulash, spicy fried chicken with vegetable sauce and rice, pasta with mixed vegetables in a rich tomato sauce, Tanzanian banana stew (Ndizi), beef and rice (Nyama na wali)
Desert may be - Fresh fruits, fried bananas with chocolate sauce, Tanzanian pancake with honey and yogurt.
We also serve hot drinks with each meal (tea, coffee, milo, chocolate). Lunch boxes will be provided according to the mid day location.
Lunch boxes may contain - samosa, sandwich, fresh fruit, boiled egg, chopped salad vegetables (carrot, tomato, pepper), cashew nuts, chocolate bar, cake and fruit juice. A hot drink will be prepared at the stopping place.
We provide energy snacks for the summit e.g. chocolate, nuts, popcorn or biscuits.
Climbers are advised to carry a small thermos flask for the summit climb and to request the crew to boil water for a hot drink to be available when needed.
Kilimanjaro water is considered safe once boiled and filtered. Climbers with a sensitive stomach may want to bring water purifying tablets to add to their drinking water.
We have Katadyn filters available to ensure the water quality is as safe as possible.
We request climbers to inform us when they book if they have any special food requirements .
For your safety:
All guides are mountain trained and licensed by KINAPA. Additional ongoing training is provided by Kilitreks & Safaris. We provide a 24 hour base support team. Our guides and assistant guides carry mobile phones for daily contact to base. HF radio is also available on the mountain for emergency situations. Guides provide a daily mountain briefing on weather conditions, appropriate clothing, route etc. Guides also carry a basic first aid kit.
For your safety and peace of mind, emergency air response cover is available. Please request details.
Once on the Mountain, your guide is your mentor and it is his duty to advise, lead, support and encourage you to safely achieve your personal goal, then to bring you down to the gate again. He will hike with you and answer any questions you have about the mountain. It is important that you work closely with your guide and follow his advice.
If you feel unwell at any time you must be honest and tell your guide.
The guide recruits the mountain crew (porters, assistants, chefs) and it is his responsibility to see that the crew work efficiently and everything runs smoothly and safely. For this reason your guide may need to attend to other duties as well as accompany you.
The porter to client ratio is generally a calculation of 2.5 porters to 1 client. The maximum load a porter should carry is 15 kg. Porters carry clients back-packs, food, trekking equipment and general supplies as well as their own personal gear. Their load is weighed at the entry gate. More porters may need to be allocated to the climb crew if loads exceed National Park regulations.
The porters duties are very physical and tiring, but, under the leadership of the guide, everything should be waiting for you when you arrive at the end of the hike and ready for you to leave the following morning.
Preparing and cooking food at altitude (often in bad weather conditions) takes skill and patience. Mountain chefs are highly skilled and will accommodate your food preferences whenever possible. We would like to know in advance if you have any special food requirements.
Depending on the Kilimanjaro route you choose you will stay in shared, alpine-style wooden huts (Marangu route only) or tents within designated campsite areas.
Marangu route is the only route with A-frame dormitory style mountain huts to sleep in. There are 60 bunk beds at Mandara (in small huts) and Kibo (large dormitory), and 120 bunk beds (in small huts) at Horombo. There are communal dining areas and basic toilet and private washing facilities.
Rongai route climbers who join Marangu route for the summit attempt and for descent will not have access to the huts for sleeping. Sorry! but this is KINAPA policy.
All other routes are camping only with toilet huts and water that is carried and delivered by porters.
The campsite areas make the most of the available terrain, with some having precarious 'drops' for the unsuspecting hiker. It is advisable that you familiarize yourself with the location of toilets etc before dusk.
Water is provided for personal washing but please remember to use conservatively, as someone has to carry and heat it for you. Better still, bring a box of wet wipes.
There is no place no where on any route to dump rubbish.
All rubbish is carried back down to the gate by the porters. This amounts to a large volume for each group. The mountain crews do their best, but can not be expected to counteract climbers bad litter habits. Please keep your rubbish with you until you can pass it to your team.
It is helpful if climbers carry a small plastic bag to collect personal rubbish ready to hand over to porters at the end of the day.
For many, this is likely to be the only chance to climb Kilimanjaro. The mountain is seriously high and may be the most challenging holiday adventure you ever pay for.
We want our climbers to have a good chance of success. The toughest part of the climb is the final 6 to 8 hours it takes to reach the summit. This is due to the altitude.
Physical fitness will increase your chances of summit success. Well before the start date of your climb consider a fitness regime which includes regular hiking, brisk walking with a back pack and gentle jogging.
Previous high altitude trekking is also an advantage. However, whatever your level of fitness, it will not reduce your chances of getting altitude sickness, which affects climbers indiscriminately.
Adding an extra day above 3000 meters on Kilimanjaro will help the body to adjust to altitude, or, if your pocket is not deep enough, a pre-climb hike in the Kilimanjaro foothills (up to 1,800 meters) will help to get your body and mind prepared.
Allowing an extra day after your flight lands is also a good idea.
If you feel unwell at any time during your Kilimanjaro hike, please inform your guide. You may just need support and encouragement, but you may also need medical assistance and/or emergency evacuation. Guides are trained to assess your level of well-being.
Here you will find more on fitness preparation to climb kilimanjaro
Please seek medical advice before you book. Please declare any long standing medical conditions to the office before you confirm.
You should not be climbing at altitude if you have a respiratory problem, sore throat, cold, cough, increased temperature or a nose bleed.
During the climb you need to drink plenty of water (3 to 4 liters each day) and eat snacks and regular energizing meals (which our mountain chef will provide).
For more information on general travel health, visit the Travel FAQs page.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is not cheap, as your research will have shown. You will also discover that prices charged by the many different operators vary. We advise you not to make your decision based on price alone as safety considerations, organization and the quality of service may not be a true reflection of the price quoted.
There are minimum expenses every single operator must face, such as park fees, staff wages, food, equipment, transportation and other logistical costs. Kilimanjaro National Park (KINAPA) entrance and camping/hut fees by far make up the biggest expense. The other significant expenses are operational - staff wages, food, and transportation costs.
Kilitreks and safaris aim to ensure climb quality and safety at a reasonable cost. The prices we charge depend on how many climbers are booking, which climbing routes, the number of days on the mountain and any additional services requested.
Kilimanjaro fees increase July 1st 2013.
For two people booking, expect to pay around US$1,750 - US$2,350 for the Kilimanjaro climb service (more or less, depending on the booking request i.e. trekking route and number of climb days etc). The more climbers there are on the booking will attract smaller prices due to economies of scale.
Standard 'climb only' mountain service may include:
- On-site welcome orientation and climb briefing
- On-site personal equipment check (on agreement)
- Inclusive mountain service for chosen route: National Park fees, rescue fees, government taxes, camping or hut fees, camping equipment (tent, mess tent, sleeping mattress, dining equipment) as applicable to the route, guide(s), chef(s), assistant(s), porters, vehicle transfers to/from the hotel and gate, three energizing meals a day and water.
Equipment (other than items stated above), visas, international or internal flights, land based transfers (e.g. bus) from Dar es Salaam, Nairobi or other airports, alcohol/soda (unless stated), laundry, items of a personal nature, flying doctor service, additional hotel nights and meals, mountain crew tips (an expected practice in Tanzania).
Included on request:
- Airport transfers to/from Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) (unless stated as already included in the program)
- Internal flights Kilimanjaro to/from Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Mwanza, Entebbe and other airports
- Road transfers
- Additional hotel nights
- Extension tours
Kilimanjaro 'Upgrade Services' are also available by checking the tick boxes on the enquiry form:
Please note: We do not generally provide sleeping bags for reasons of hygiene. However, we have a small stock of clean, 3 to 4 season sleeping bags for hire with prior notice (US$7 per day per item).
Tips are an expected practice in Tanzania and a welcome top-up to a seasonal wage. You should not tip depending on whether or not you reached the summit BUT you should tip for the services you receive.
When you are considering how much to tip your mountain crew, think about how efficiently your porters carried your equipment, prepared the campsite or hut and the level and quality of any extra services (e.g. water carriage and wood collection). Consider the food standard and efficiency of service from the chef and kitchen assistant and also remember they have to porter items. Finally, consider how informative and helpful was your guide and how efficiently did he run the team!
It is always difficult to suggest an amount, but from experience we know our visitors appreciate some guidance. We suggest the following amount for tipping: Mountain Guides a minimum of US$20 per day, Chef US$12-15 per day, Porters US$10-12 per day each. Tipping more or less is your decision based on the service you receive.
How and when to pay the tips will be discussed at your climb briefing. Tips are usually handed over to the guide to distribute to the team on the morning of the final day. The act of tipping is usually done quite formally with all the team assembled. After the 'ceremony' the crew leave and descend quickly to finish their work.
The easiest way to book is via the booking form.
Review the climb programs
Decide on a route
Choose a private or group trek
Select the 'Book Now' link (opens in a new window)
Select dates and any options
Add your details
Submit your booking.
You can also send us your request via the enquiry form
Also, please take time to read our Pricing Policy page for terms and conditions.
Discounts are available for large groups. Discounts may also be available if booking additional tours with your climb.
Tour operators and group leaders: Excellent rates offered for volume bookings. please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Page update 15/04/2013